Jesus & Buddha: Practicing Across Traditions — Official Trailer

Review by David Sharp

‘Jesus and Buddha’ is a professionally produced documentary film featuring three scholar-practitioners of religion who are engaged in practising both Christianity and Buddhism. Prof. Paul Knitter and Fr Robert Kennedy SJ have their roots in Roman Catholicism, while Prof. Hyun Kyung Chung has a Presbyterian background; yet all of them have found depth and importance in Zen Buddhism in the USA, in a way which complements their Christianity.

The film demands of the listener quite a high level of religious literacy in both religious traditions and this may limit its use to higher education, within liberal religious communities and in some interfaith/dialogue encounters. In a society of considerable religious diversity, where religion is often worn as an exclusive identity badge, where tolerance means a passive indifference and respect doesn’t run to admiration, the message of learning from the religious other is a vital one to illustrate. Learning about, with and from another religious tradition, is a mantra not yet chanted by many. This is a valuable film that takes making sense of apparent religious differences very seriously.

There are some suggested discussion questions, which are useful, but they simply reflect the basic philosophy of the film that it is possible to practice two religions at once without compromise. It may well be that this philosophy is sound but many thinkers, past and present, have said it is not sound, and the film should address this issue. Knitter has written at length about the stances of Exclusivism, Inclusivism and indeed the Pluralism he discusses in the film, but there is a need to deal here with the arguments of the two other positions. Are Knitter, Kennedy and Chung Christian-Buddhists or Buddhist-Christians or ‘mystics’ utilising a variety of beliefs and practices? How are the charges of taking a ‘pick and mix’ approach, or of syncretism, to be addressed? It is good to see that bridges of understanding are being built, but both Buddha and Jesus did draw certain boundaries which encouraged many followers to proclaim a single vision of truth. Some comment about this would have been helpful.

The format just about avoids the ‘talking heads’ approach and there are some rich and colourful shots inside churches and meditation halls as well as carefully selected iconic figures of Jesus and the Buddha. Each of the three participants make several contributions, layer upon layer, in a rather predictable pattern but with obvious sincerity. There are no surprises or triggers to restimulate attention, and I wonder if broader camera work or the use of a narrator to underline points or ask penetrating questions might improved the film.

Here we have Christians finding spiritual riches in Buddhism. A question that arose for me in watching this film was: are we, any time soon, likely to hear of Buddhists finding spiritual riches in Christianity? In spite of my caveats, I thought this was a valuable film and one which I hope will be seen and discussed by believers of many persuasions.

David Sharp is Interfaith Officer and Tutor at Suffolk Interfaith Centre, Ipswich, UK, and is involved with Ipswich Buddhist Centre.


Published on May 11, 2012

Three leading figures in today’s Buddhist-Christian dialogue share their personal journeys in the new documentary Jesus and Buddha: Practicing Across Traditions. We learn how following the path of the Buddha has informed and deepened their understanding of who Jesus was and what he taught. Their experience and insight bring these two liberating archetypes alive in a way that can help guide us through our own confusion and struggle toward lives filled with joy and gratitude, compassion and service.
The film features: Father Robert Kennedy, a Jesuit priest and Zen teacher; Chung Hyun Kyung, Professor of Ecumenical Theology and Interfaith Engagement at Union Theological Seminary and a Buddhist Dharma teacher; and Paul Knitter, Professor of Theology, World Religions and Culture at Union Theological Seminary.

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Nigel Hamilton: ‘A Sufi Perspective: The role of dreams during the process of spiritual transformation’ [Updated Jan 8, 2014]

The Sufi Perspective on the use of dreams following a psycho-spiritual transformation process

Nigel Hamilton is the director of the Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education, a Transpersonal Psychotherapy Training Centre and Clinic in London, where he lectures and practices as a Psychotherapist; UK representative for the Sufi Order International: originally trained as a Physicist, working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the use of light in Energy Storage Research.

Abstract
The use of dreams as a tool for motivating the process of a person’s psycho-spiritual transformation is discussed. Traditional descriptions of such a process in Sufism have been poetic (Faraddin Attar) or esoteric (Ib’n Arabi). This paper looks at the dreams recorded during a profound psycho-spiritual transformation process from a Sufi perspective, using a phenomenological method to describe the “leaps in consciousness” that the Sufis refer to in their literature.
The results of a quantitative analysis of the frequency of occurrence of colours and light in this person’s dreams are also presented, compared and contrasted with the descriptions of the process found in the Sufi literature and the phenomenological analysis. The use of such research methods shows that dreams do indeed reflect the profound changes in consciousness, and that these changes take place in a “step-wise” manner.
This paper is a fresh look at a phenomenon that, if taken seriously, could have important consequences for our assumptions about the potential and limits of rational thinking. For example, there may be other realms of human experience, universes or planes of consciousness, which our modern civilisation has yet to explore and harness

78 minutes.
Listen to Talk Here

Dr Denis Alexander: ‘Science and Faith in 2007 – Where are we now?’


Dr Denis Alexander is the Emeritus Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, where he is a Fellow. Dr Alexander was previously Chairman of the Molecular Immunology Programme and Head of the Laboratory of Lymphocyte Signalling and Development at the Babraham Institute, Cambridge. Prior to that Dr Alexander was at the Imperial Cancer Research Laboratories in London (now Cancer Research UK), and spent 15 years developing university departments and laboratories overseas, latterly as Associate Professor of Biochemistry in the Medical Faculty of the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, where he helped to establish the National Unit of Human Genetics. Dr Alexander was initially an Open Scholar at Oxford reading Biochemistry, before obtaining a PhD in Neurochemistry at the Institute of Psychiatry in London.

60 minutes.
Listen to talk here

‘Contemplations on the Nature of Experience ’ ~ Rupert Spira

In this meeting Rupert explores the perennial non-dual understanding that lies at the heart of all the great religious and spiritual traditions such as Advaita Vedanta, Mahayana and Dzogchen Buddhism, Mystical Christianity, Sufism, Zen etc., as well as the western philosophical tradition of Parmenides, Plotinus and many others, and which is also the direct, ever-present reality of our own intimate experience. This is a contemporary, experiential approach involving silent meditation, guided meditation and dialogue, and requires no affiliation to any particular religious or spiritual tradition. All that is required is an interest in the essential nature of experience and in the longing for love, peace and happiness around which most of our lives revolve.

Part 1 – Talk and questions – 116 minutes Listen to talk Here

Part 2 – More questions – 88 minutes Listen Talk Here

Aside

The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone: A Four-Legged Approach to Enlightenment ~ Michael Chase [Updated Jan 8, 2014]

Is “loving everyone” really possible, as the title of Michael J. Chase’s new book suggests? The answer may surprise you, as he chronicles his journey toward enlightenment, gaining insight from a very unlikely source—a four-legged guru named Mollie, who happens to be the most lovable yet mischievous dog in the world.

In his attempt to understand her ability to unconditionally love all, Chase begins to see the world through his best friend’s eyes, especially during their morning walks. Mollie’s hilarious antics and maddening behavior ultimately lead to profound insights learned at the other end of the leash. Written with heart and sidesplitting humor, this one-of-a-kind true story of friendship and a divine albeit outrageous dog delivers on its promise to reveal a pathway toward enlightenment . . . and brings each of us one step closer to loving everyone.
Affectionately known as “The Kindness Guy,” Michael J. Chase is one of today’s most powerful voices for creating a kinder world. In 2007 Michael ended a 16 year career as a professional photographer, trading in his camera in search of the meaning of life, which he found in a very unlikely source. (Read the full story in ‘am I being kind’). Following this life changing epiphany, he began The Kindness Center and quickly became a sought after inspirational speaker.

Considered an expert on the subjects of kindness and positive behavior, Michael’s teachings are recognized across the globe. Whether presenting in a classroom, boardroom, or on stage in front of thousands, his message of hope impacts countless lives each year. Michael’s work is not aligned with any particular religion or belief system. All teachings are based on the universal language of kindness which embraces all and excludes none.

In 2010, Michael joined the Hay House speaking roster, which includes self-empowerment legends Louise L. Hay, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Cheryl Richardson, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Marianne Williamson and many more. He is now a main presenter at Hay House’s renowned “I Can Do It” conferences. His new book, ‘The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone’ will be released in May 2013. When he’s not traveling, Michael spends his time in Southern Maine with his loving wife, son, and four-legged best friend, Mollie.

The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone by Michael J. Chase

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